Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo, visited with media following the morning test segment - Note: Was 7th fast in the session. HOW IS YOUR TEST SESSION GOING? "The test session is going good today. The last...
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo, visited with media following the morning test segment - Note: Was 7th fast in the session.
HOW IS YOUR TEST SESSION GOING? "The test session is going good today. The last couple of days we've just struggled a little bit. But you can never tell what's going to happen with our deal until we get back to qualify. So everything has gone real good so far. It's been hard to get a real good read on everything with the wind blowing. Today has really been the best day to get anything done early in the morning. For the most part, we've just been nit-picking at it and getting ready for the (Daytona) 500. We've only been off for a short amount of time, but we're ready to go after it."
WITH ALL THE SOPHISTICATED WIND TUNNEL WORK YOU DO, DOES THE WINDY WEATHER AFFECT THE TEST? "They've become pretty good with judging how hard the wind is blowing and things like that. They can gauge it pretty good. But the wind tunnel is really good for a short amount of time, but for the most part you still have to come to the track and back it up. You can work on a lot of handling stuff. This is going to be a pretty big handling deal this year with the soft tires.
ON THE POSSIBLE REVSION IN THE POINTS SYSTEM "I need a standard answer. In my opinion, the points system rewards the most consistent driver in 36 races. For the most part, I think our points races have been pretty good. Last year, Matt Kenseth got way out in front in the beginning and wound up winning by 90 points. I think the winner should be given a few more points. I haven't heard too many people positively speak about the proposed system. But if that's what it needs to be to be bigger and better, then that's what we need to do. I think we could do it a different way. We've got a lot going on this year. But, I just drive. I don't really know that I'm the one that should be asked that question."
CAN YOU HANDICAP THE FIELD FOR '04? "Well, Ryan (Newman) and Jimmie (Johnson) are getting married, so that should handicap them a little bit. No, I'm just kidding. But I think Ryan and Jimmie are probably two of the candidates (for the title), and obviously Jeff Gordon. It think there is just a handful of people you can name every year for the most part.
"We feel really good about our chances. We've only had one change in our staff, so that's really good. That's a big key in our chances for this year. For the most part, when we came this week it just felt like we hadn't missed a beat and we just knew what everybody was doing. The cars were ready. Everything was prepared really good. We've got a good plan and hopefully we can get off to a better start than we had last year. I think that's going to be the key to our whole season.
"Being in the right place at the right time is the key. The driver probably handicaps the car a little bit. We've had really good race cars for the last two years. Last year we had a chance to win every race and fell off a little bit at Talladega when they changed the rules package. But I think we've closed that gap. It's just like our whole season was last year. We finished second seven or eight times, and we could have won four or five races if things had gone differently. But all in all, last year was a great year. We just have to take that next little step. We don't have to take any more big steps."
HAVE YOU REACHED A NEW COMFORT LEVEL IN THE SPORT? "I think so. In the years past, the seasons have ended in a little bit of turmoil just as far as personnel or things surrounding the race team. And we've always had change in the winter. Then you have to spend the first part of the year getting used to different situations. And then you have rules changes. At the beginning of last year, we got off a little bit with our cars and motors. We got it all turned around really quick. It's a huge credit to or organization that we could turn it around that much, but we just gave up a lot of ground in the beginning. With the group that we have now, I don't think we're going to give that up right off the bat. It's just like being here every day of the last 10 years. You get into a rhythm and know what to expect. I think everybody on the whole team knows what to expect for the most part."
DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF THE MANUFACTURER DIFFERENCE IN THE CARS THIS YEAR THAT GIVES AN ADVANTAGE TO ONE OVER ANOTHER? "You basically have what you have. That's the motto we go by and we try not to worry about what everybody else has. We just go out and do the best that we can. We've got what we've got. I know Ford got a new head and a new nose, but I don't know if that was a gain or a loss or what the case is."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO RUN BOTH BUSCH AND CUP IN THE SAME SEASON? "I think it's more difficult now than it was just because all the races don't line up. There is no possible way you can be at Infineon and Milwaukee on the same day. It can really wear you out in the middle of the summer and especially late in the summer. I think Adrenalin kept us going in 2001. But I think it helps to have seat time and track time in both the Busch car and the Cup car when you don't have a lot of time. But from the physical standpoint, I think it takes a lot away in the summer."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FANFEST LAST NIGHT? "I thought it was fine. We all signed several hundred autograph cards before we went and that's how they distributed them to the fans. I think some of the people had different expectations and they didn't read everything that was supposed to go on. From a driver's standpoint, I thought it was well organized. Obviously it's going to be a work in progress. We have to learn by what we do this year and make sure we take care of the fans. I think some people just didn't entirely understand everything that was going on. But they will eventually."
IF THE POINTS SYSTEM IS CHANGED TO A 10-RACE SHOOTOUT, DO YOU THINK THE LAST 10 RACES ON THE SCHEDULE WOULD BE THE RIGHT ASSORTMENT OF TRACK TYPES? "Now this is just my opinion and since you guys are asking, I'll tell you. I think our marquis race tracks need to be our last 10 races. It needs to be a Bristol, a Daytona, and a Richmond. But for the most part, I think that's the whole objective of the 26 / 10 is to make it more interesting and more exciting. It's kind of like the NFL playoffs. Everyone watches them because they know it's down to the end. The people that didn't watch during the year want to watch now because they know whoever wins is in and whoever loses is out. But I think our sport is a little bit different and there are pros and cons to both sides. I was 100 percent against it two months ago. But when you sit down and think about some of it, there are some pretty good pros to the whole system. I'm still not 100 percent for it but I'm not 100 percent against it. It's just one of those deals where you're almost going to have to try it and see how it works out and go from there. I'm fifty-fifty right now. I'm torn down the middle. I think our marquis race tracks need to be at the end but I don't sit over there in the office and make all those decisions."
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU DIDN'T MAKE THE TOP 10 AT THE END? "Disappointed. There is really no other way to explain it. You'd be disappointed with the whole season. And at that point you'd have no chance. That's one of the drawbacks in my fifty-fifty thinking. A good example of that was what Kurt Busch said yesterday when he was 11th and ended up finishing 3rd or whatever in 2002. So I think maybe the top 10 is a little shallow for the number of cars that need to be involved in the points - maybe 15 or 20. Who knows? Even if you are winning races and you're not in the top 10, you're still not going to be the title in the newspaper the next day."